Intra- and inter-spatial variability of meiofauna in hadal trenches is linked to microbial activity and food availability

M. Shimabukuro*, D. Zeppilli, D. Leduc, F. Wenzhöfer, P. Berg, A. A. Rowden, R. N. Glud


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Hadal trenches are depocenters for organic material, and host intensified benthic microbial activity. The enhanced deposition is presumed to be reflected in elevated meiofaunal standing-stock, but available studies are ambiguous. Here, we investigate the distribution of meiofauna along the Atacama Trench axis and adjacent abyssal and bathyal settings in order to relate the meiofauna densities to proxies for food availability. Meiofauna densities peaked at the sediment surface and attenuated steeply with increasing sediment depth. The distribution mirrored the vertical profile of the microbial-driven oxygen consumption rate demonstrating a close linkage between microbial activity and meiofauna density. Meiofaunal standing-stock along the trench axis varied by a factor of two, but were markedly higher than values from the abyssal site at the oceanic plate. Overall, meiofaunal densities poorly correlated with common proxies for food availability such as total organic carbon and phytopigments, but strongly correlated with the microbial benthic O2 consumption rate. We argue that microbial biomass likely represents an important meiofaunal food source for hadal meiofauna. Observations from three trench systems underlying surface water of highly different productivity confirmed elevated meiofaunal densities at the trench axis as compared to abyssal sites on oceanic plates. Food availability appear to drive elevated abundance and variations in meiofauna densities in hadal sediments.

TidsskriftScientific Reports
Udgave nummer1
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the captain, crew and the scientific personnel of the R/V Sonne (SO261; 02.03.-02.04.2018). Ship time for SO261 was provided by BMBF (Germany) awarded to FW and RNG. This study was financially supported by HADES-ERC Advanced grant “Benthic diagenesis and microbiology of hadal trenches” #669947; and by the Danish National Research Foundation grant DNRF145 to establish the Danish Center for Hadal Research, both awarded to RNG. Financial support was also provided by the Total Foundation and IFREMER through PIONEER project grant “Prokaryote-nematode interaction in marine extreme environments: a unique source for exploration of innovative biomedical applications” awarded to DZ. Furthermore, we would like to thank Eve Julie Pernet, Benoit Chédot, Alizé Bouriat (IFREMER), and Anni Glud (HADAL/Nordcee – SDU) for technical assistance. MS kindly thanks Clemens Schauberger (HADAL/Nordcee – SDU) for sharing prokariotic abundance dataset from SO261 cruise.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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